By Olivia Janisch
Food nourishes our minds, bodies and spirits. Yogis believe that food creates the life force that sustains our vitality and health. With this in mind, it’s critical that what we eat support our higher purpose in everything we do. Yoga is a place of particular note, where our food can literally make or break our practice.
For the most part, the majority of conscious yoga practitioners have cut out processed and fast foods, shun sugars, and daren’t dip into the dark world of energy drinks. Excellent start, my friends, as all those deplete your energy, negatively affect your brain health, and age your body at a rate that will make your head spin. Cutting out these toxic non-foods drastically improves your health, but there is a lot more you can do to enhance your overall health and get the most out of your practice.
So what foods support your yoga body and mind? Ancient yogis believe it to be foods that facilitate the development of sattva. Sattva is the quality of peace, love, awareness and connection with all other living beings. What we eat represents the level of our conscious development, so we must consider what qualities we are choosing to reflect. This starts with a vegetarian diet, encouraging foods that are grown in harmony with nature. It emphasizes the importance of eating foods that are prepared with love and positive intention, thus enhancing our higher state of consciousness.
Now, whether or not you are a vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, or loving your paleo diet, eating foods that are in line with this philosophy will do wonders for your yoga practice on and off the mat.
Foods to eat before your practice:
Warm water with lemon – hydrates and flushes toxins
Apples – excellent source of B vitamins and fiber for increased stamina
Bananas – contain potassium to provide electrolytes and relax muscles
Dates – pure source of natural sugar for sustained energy
Almonds and walnuts – contain protein to reduce hunger cravings, omega-3 to enhance focus
Foods to eat after your practice:
Grapefruit – exercise and heavy breathing create an acidic environment in your body so it’s critical to eat something alkaline afterwards to neutralize the acid; vitamin C strengthens your immune system
Organic Berries – excellent source of antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress and flush your system after all those deep twists
Cucumber – re-hydrates and replenishes lost nutrients
Spinach or kale – packed with iron to help re-oxygenate blood and boost energy, it’s exactly what your body wants after a workout. Try in a smoothie with bananas, pineapple, almond milk, and raw protein powder
Hemp seeds - Extremely rich in protein to aid and accelerate muscle recovery
Take your yoga to the next level by also practicing nourishing thoughts. Use savasana as a time to bless every person in your life, and to thank spirit for everything from access to clean water to your home to your recent promotion. Yoga works in wonderful ways to heal every corner in your life. Energizing it with the right food and thoughts will elevate this process and provide you with more joy, focus, and positive intentions than you could have ever expected.